Cross to coach
By MITCHELL DALE
WOOLGOOLGA has given former NRL forward John Cross the task of putting the fight back into the Fighting Seahorses for the 2005 VB Group 2 Rugby League competition.
Given the Seahorses' shortcomings in defence last season, they couldn't have signed a better man than Cross.
Throughout a distinguished 13-year NRL career with St George Illawarra, Illawarra and Penrith, Cross was renowned for his tireless tackling and Woolgoolga hopes he can instill the same defensive grunt into the Seahorses.
Cross' signing ended months of speculation, after the Coffs Coast Advocate first reported the club was in negotiations with the NRL veteran on July 28.
Cross was seen at two of the Fighting Seahorses' matches in 2004, fuelling rumours he would replace departing captain-coach Lee Harvey, who has signed with Lower Clarence. Harvey's departure was part of a major club clean-out for 2005.
Woolgoolga now has new coaches in all three grades, a new executive, a new major sponsor and will wear new jerseys next winter.
Cross is keen to promote youth and wants to build a family atmosphere within the club. However he is realistic about what he wants to achieve in his first year.
"We haven't promised results to anyone, but we have promised a lot more professionalism at training and in the club," he said.
He is also adamant he won't pull on a Woolgoolga jersey next season.
"I've made it clear I will only be the coach," he said.
"I think we definitely need a head coach who is concentrating on coaching and bringing the young kids through.
"I would prefer a 19-year-old took my place so I can help him improve as a player and hopefully he will stay around the club for a long time."
Cross doesn't want the club to open its chequebook and buy half a first-grade squad, but said the club would welcome any player looking for an opportunity.
"We are not going to go out and spend a lot of money to attract players," he said.
"There is no quick fix. I am living around here and we will bring up our kids here, so I will be here for a while."
However, he acknowledges there are some key areas the Seahorses need to build on next year.
"We need to get one or two experienced blokes out there to help the younger players," Cross said.
The club will start preparations for 2005 with its first training run this Sunday at Woolgoolga surf club from 8am.